17. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Interdepartmental Group for Africa1

AF/NSC–IG 69–8 Rev. A

[Omitted here are a title page and table of contents.]

Study in Response to National Security Study Memorandum 39:2 Southern Africa

I. A. U.S. Interests in Southern Africa

Our policy positions on southern African issues affect a range of U.S. interests. None of the interests are vital to our security, but they have political and material importance. Some of these interests are concrete and evident in the region itself, while others relate to our position in black Africa and the world. The interests can be summarized as follows:

1. Political

Racial repression by white minority regimes in southern Africa has international political ramifications extending beyond the region itself. Politically conscious blacks elsewhere in Africa and the world deeply resent the continuation of discrimination, identify with the repressed majorities in southern Africa and tend in varying degrees to see relationships of outside powers with the white regimes as at least tacit acceptance of racism. Many others in the non-white world tend to share this view in some measure. The communist states have been quick to seize on this issue and to support black aspirations. Thus our policy toward the white regimes of southern Africa affects, though it may not necessarily govern, our standing with African and other states on issues in the United Nations and bilaterally. Depending on its intensity, adverse reaction to our policy in southern Africa could make more difficult our relationships elsewhere in Africa on a variety of matters including U.S. defense installations, over-flight rights and the use of port facilities. The same consideration applies to economic relations: direct investment in Africa outside the white regime states currently totals [Page 30] about $1.5 billion (of which the greater part is in black Africa south of the Sahara), or about two-thirds of the total U.S. investment in Africa. U.S. exports split about 60% to the black states of Africa and 40% to the white regime countries.

Because of the multi-racial character of our society and our own racial problems, other countries tend to see our relationships with southern Africa as reflections of domestic attitudes on race. This situation is exacerbated by the extension of South African racial discrimination to black Americans who may be refused visas or who are subjected to segregated facilities in South Africa.

If violence in the area escalates, U.S. interests will be increasingly threatened. In these circumstances the U.S. would find it increasingly difficult without sacrificing interests to find a middle ground in the UN on questions of insurgent violence and counter-violence in the region and to resist demands for more positive actions against the white regimes.

2. Economic

U.S. direct investment in southern Africa, mainly in South Africa, is about $1 billion and yields a highly profitable return. Trade, again mainly with South Africa, runs a favorable balance to the U.S. (Our exports to South Africa were about $450 million in 1968 against imports of $250 million.) In addition the U.S. has indirect economic interest in the key role which South Africa plays in the U.K. balance of payments. U.K. investment in South Africa is currently estimated at $3 billion, and the British have made it clear that they will take no action which would jeopardize their economic interests. South Africa produces over 75% of the free world supply of gold. The long-term importance of South African gold sales has been reduced by the creation of IMF Special Drawing Rights but they are nonetheless significant in the international monetary system and very important to South Africa.

3. Defense

Southern Africa is geographically important for the U.S. and its allies, particularly with the closing of the Suez Canal and the increased Soviet activity in the Indian Ocean.

The U.S. uses overflight and landing facilities for military aircraft in the Portuguese Territories and South Africa. Any of a number of contingencies could require U.S. military air transit to the Indian Ocean/Mid East areas. All but one feasible air route across Africa south of the Sahara would depend upon overflight and, in some cases, landing rights in South Africa or Zambia and Mozambique. The DOD has proposed periodic use of these routes in normal times. However, apart from tracking station support aircraft, the policy has been to request clearance for South Africa as infrequently as possible.

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There are major ship repair and logistic facilities in South Africa with a level of technical competence which cannot be duplicated elsewhere on the African continent. We have not permitted U.S. naval vessels to use South African port facilities since early 1967, except for emergencies. We have made use of U.S. Navy or foreign oilers to refuel carriers transiting to and from S.E. Asia via the Cape of Good Hope. Navy force reductions now call for the deactivation of two Atlantic Fleet and one Pacific Fleet oiler, which will attenuate already meager oiler assets so that, the DOD considers, assignment of oiler support to a carrier transit would seriously degrade our fleet posture vis-à-vis commitments and requirements. Regular use is made of ports in Angola and Mozambique, however, but these ports cannot accommodate aircraft carriers.

The DOD has a missile tracking station in South Africa under a classified agreement, and some of the military aircraft traffic involves support of this station. The future need for the DOD station is under review. The tentative conclusions are that the station is no longer required for research and development of missiles. We also finance a U.K. atmosphere testing station for nuclear materials located in Swaziland which helps us monitor nuclear atmospheric explosions worldwide.

4. Scientific

NASA has a space tracking facility of major importance in South Africa, and overflight and landing rights for support aircraft are utilized in connection with various space shots. The NASA station is particularly oriented towards support of unmanned spacecraft and will be of key significance for planetary missions. We have an atomic energy agreement with South Africa initiated under the Atoms for Peace Program; this relationship is important in influencing South Africa to continue its policy of doing nothing in the marketing of its large production of uranium oxide which would have the effect of increasing the number of nuclear weapons powers.

B. Views of the U.S. Interest in Southern Africa

In weighing the range of U.S. interests in southern Africa, there is basic consensus within the U.S. Government:

Although the U.S. has various interests in the region, it has none which could be classified as vital security interests.
Our political interests in the region are important because the racial policies of the white states have become a major international issue. Therefore, because other countries have made it so, our foreign policy must take into account the domestic policies of the white regimes. Most non-white nations in the world in varying degrees would tend to judge [Page 32] conspicuous U.S. cooperation with the white regimes as condoning their racial policies.
The racial problems of southern Africa probably will grow more acute over time, perhaps leading to violent internal upheavals and greater involvement of the communist powers. Though these developments may be years or even decades ahead, U.S. policy should take account now of the risks to our interests and possible involvement over this uncertain future.

There are specific differences of view within the government regarding future trends in southern Africa and the U.S. role in the area. These contrasting views are central to a judgment of U.S. policy options. The following reflect a basic intellectual disagreement within the government in approaching the southern African problem:


U.S. Involvement to Promote Change

U.S. efforts for constructive change: Some argue that racism and colonialism are central issues in African and world politics. The race issue in southern Africa has already led to armed conflict and disharmony which will spread if left unchecked. The U.S. is obligated under the UN Charter to do what we can to promote the non-discriminatory observance of human rights.

Non-involvement: Others reply that our disagreement with the domestic policies of any state should not govern the pursuit of our foreign policy interests in that state. Our concern with internal human rights problems has caused us to ignore serious cross-border infiltration which is a more legitimate UN concern and could lead to larger conflicts in the area. The actions taken against the white states, particularly on South West Africa and Rhodesia, have no valid basis in international law.


Violent vs. Evolutionary Change

Violent Change: Some argue that mounting violence is inevitable unless change occurs and that there is no prospect for peaceful change in the racial policies of the white regimes, embedded as they are in prejudice, religious doctrine and self-interest and bolstered by economic prosperity, particularly in South Africa. The results will be: (a) black guerrilla and terrorist activity on a growing scale within these countries until change occurs, and (b) because of their support of the blacks, the Soviets and Chinese will become the major beneficiaries of the conflict.

Evolutionary Change: Others contend that there will be violence up to a point, since change can only come slowly. But there is some prospect for peaceful change in the white states in response to internal economic and social forces. In any event, peaceful evolution is the only avenue to change because (a) black violence only produces internal [Page 33] reaction, and (b) military realities rule out a black victory at any stage. Moreover, there are reasons to question the depth and permanence of black resolve. Recently there has been a decline in the level of insurgency. Neighboring black states—vital to successful guerrilla activity—will choose to preserve their own security in the face of inevitable punishing white retaliation at an early stage of any significant guerrilla warfare.


The Possibility of U.S. Influence Toward Evolutionary Change

No Influence: Some contend that we can neither reform the whites nor restrain the blacks. Racial repression is deeply ingrained in the whites—the product of tradition, economic privilege and fears for their survival. These attitudes are not amenable to the kinds of influence one nation exerts upon another through peaceful international relations. Only isolation and stronger forms of pressure (i.e. force or mandatory economic sanctions backed by blockade) could have any impact.

Yet, they argue, without some change in the whites we cannot hope to influence the blacks to accept “peaceful evolution” as a substitute for force. The blacks will see such advice as a fundamental U.S. betrayal of their cause.

A related school of thought believes that in this sensitive area any effort by the U.S. to exert influence on internal policies could retard rather than stimulate the natural dynamics of change in the white-dominated societies.

Some Influence: Others argue that our tactical encouragement of economic and social forces already at work within the white regimes can constitute marginal but important influence for change. That influence, however, can be exerted only subtly and over several years. We should not give up whatever chance we have—through contacts with whites as well as blacks—to defuse the dangerous tensions in the area and to demonstrate the alternatives to the disastrous racial policies of the white regimes. Exposure of these regimes to the outside world is necessary if there is to be peaceful change. Isolation of the white societies has only intensified repressive policies. Moreover, external efforts to force change by pressure or coercion have unified the whites and produced an obdurate counter-reaction.


Importance of Political vs. Other Tangible Interests

Political Interests: Some argue that racial hostility as a reaction to centuries of white predominance is a relatively new political force in the world, gaining power and effectiveness as the developing countries become independent and control access to their own territories. We cannot foresee exactly when race will become a major factor in the international power balance, but that time is coming. It is equally clear [Page 34] that the racial repression by the white regimes in southern Africa is now the most volatile racial problem on the international scene.

For the non-white states, they also argue, the reckoning of support on the racial issue in their time of weakness will determine their friendship or hostility for the U.S. a generation hence when their importance in world politics may be substantially greater. Thus failure to demonstrate an appreciation today of African aspirations may eventually (a) forfeit great influence to the communist powers, who have taken a clear position in support of black states and liberation movements and (b) jeopardize our strategic and economic interests in non-white Africa. Any anti-U.S. or pro-communist reactions, however, are unlikely to be either solid or early, and many black states are very aware of the dangers of association with the communists.

Other Tangible Interests: Others reply that our interests in the white states of southern Africa—albeit having a relatively low priority among such interests worldwide—are clearly worth retaining at their present political cost. These interests include access to air and naval facilities for which alternatives are expensive or less satisfactory, a major space tracking station, and significant investment and balance of trade advantages. Our political concerns and other interests may be accommodated because (a) the great majority of non-white states in Africa and elsewhere will put their own immediate self-interest ahead of penalizing us for our interests in the white states, and (b) even the most directly involved black states (Zambia and Tanzania) will temper their reaction because our continued good will and support for their cause will be important, and they know it. In any event other countries will judge our standing on the racial issue worldwide by the outcome of the racial problems in the United States.

II. Present Policy

The aim of present policy is to try to balance our economic, scientific and strategic interests in the white states with the political interest of dissociating the U.S. from the white minority regimes and their repressive racial policies. Decisions have been made ad hoc, on a judgment of benefits and political costs at a given moment. But the strength of this policy—its flexibility—is also its weakness. Policy is not precisely recorded. And because there have been significant differences of view within the government as to how much weight should be given to these conflicting factors in any given instance, certain decisions have been held in suspense “pending review of the over-all policy”—e.g., visits of naval vessels to South African ports enroute to and from the Indian Ocean or Viet-Nam, export licensing of equipment for South Africa, Angola and Mozambique, which might be used either for military or civilian purposes, participation of South African military personnel in Department of Defense correspondence courses.

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This policy seeks progress towards majority rule through political arrangements which guarantee increasing participation by the whole population. Tangible evidence of such progress has been considered a precondition for improved U.S. relations with the white states. In the case of South Africa, the following are illustrative of the types of actions which that government might take to improve relations with the U.S.:

Bilateral. Permit assignment of non-whites to U.S. Embassy and consulates. Non-discriminatory treatment of U.S. naval personnel and merchant marine crews ashore. Non-discriminatory visa policy. Permit more South African non-whites in U.S. exchange programs. Facilitate U.S. official access to non-white areas of South Africa and South West Africa.
Internal. Eliminate job reservation and abolish pay differentials based on race. Recognize African labor unions as bargaining units. Abolish pass laws and repressive security legislation. Move towards qualified franchise for non-whites.
Regional and International. Recognize UN responsibility for South West Africa and permit UN presence in territory; cease applying repressive legislation there. Withdraw economic and paramilitary support from Rhodesia. Give generous customs treatment to Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Expand exceptions to apartheid in cases of visiting non-whites such as sportsmen and businessmen.

(It is realized that most of the foregoing are unrealistic under present circumstances, but they illustrate the directions in which change might be sought.)

Following are the actions taken toward the different countries and areas which, in sum, constitute our present policy toward southern Africa:

Republic of South Africa

We maintain limited but formally correct diplomatic relations, making clear our opposition to apartheid. In the early 1960’s the U.S. played a leading role in the UN in denouncing South Africa’s racial policies. We led the effort in 1963 to establish and we continue to support the UN arms embargo on South Africa. We have avoided association with the South African Defense Force except for limited military attaché contacts. We supported the UN declaration that South Africa’s mandate over South West Africa had terminated, and calling for it to withdraw and to acknowledge direct UN responsibility for the territory. On the other hand, we have acted on the premise that the problems of South Africa and South West Africa do not justify either the use of force or the imposition of mandatory economic sanctions, in part because there is no evidence that these actions would be efficacious. Moreover, we have sought to avoid the involvement of any U.S. mili[Page 36]tary forces which might be required for such measures. Negro personnel have not been assigned to the U.S. mission and consulates in South Africa.

We have supported efforts to protect the legal rights of victims of discriminatory and repressive legislation in South Africa and South West Africa. This has involved aide-mémoires, attendance at trials to assure international observation of certain legal and judicial practices, and cooperation with private groups in the American bar to reinforce in South Africa traditions of respect for the rule of law. We also have sought to deepen our identification with the non-white majorities through personal contacts, public appearances and our exchange program. We have sought to support through the UN and private agencies humanitarian relief for South African and South West African victims of repression.

There is limited overflight and landing activity by U.S. aircraft in South Africa. Except for three emergencies, there have been no U.S. naval ship calls in South African ports since early 1967, pending a review of policy towards South Africa. We rely heavily on the NASA tracking station near Johannesburg, particularly for planetary missions, but at the same time maintain less satisfactory alternate facilities outside South Africa in case it becomes necessary or desirable to close the station. The future need for the DOD tracking station at Pretoria is under review. The tentative conclusions are that the station is no longer required for research and development of missiles. We enjoy very profitable economic relations with South Africa despite the official approach of neither encouraging nor discouraging investment (apart from the Foreign Direct Investment Program) and keeping trade facilitative services in low key. EXIM loans are not authorized, but export guarantees up to five years are permitted, subject to review for political implications. In general, the restrictions imposed on our economic relations with South Africa, especially the constraints on EXIM financing, may have limited somewhat the growth of our exports and investment there. Profit prospects in South Africa, however, attract U.S. business regardless of official endorsement.

Southern Rhodesia

The U.S. voted for the Security Council resolutions of December 1966 and May 19683 which imposed mandatory sanctions against Southern Rhodesia on the basis of a finding of a threat to the peace under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Executive Orders implementing [Page 37] the sanctions program were issued in January 1967 and July 1968 under authority of the UN Participation Act of 1945.4 (Although Portugal and South Africa have assisted Southern Rhodesia, the U.S. has not supported the extension of mandatory sanctions to them.)

The mandatory sanctions program was devised by the British as a compromise between the use of force, which they were unwilling to contemplate largely because of domestic considerations, and doing nothing, which would have jeopardized their relations with the black African states and other Afro-Asian members of the Commonwealth. The United States cooperated with the U.K. largely for the same reasons. We also anticipated that failure to devise peaceful means to influence the Smith regime toward a satisfactory settlement would encourage extremists and dangerous instability in the area. Although it was recognized from the start that the sanctions program would be an imperfect instrument there was a tendency to overestimate the effectiveness of sanctions, which have been weakened by numerous and sometimes large (South Africa and Portugal) loopholes. Similarly, although there was awareness that the convenience of certain economic interests would be disrupted through sanctions, there was a tendency to underestimate the extent to which criticism, both political and economic, would multiply with the passage of time and evidence of the program’s lack of success.

The U.S. has continued to recognize British sovereignty in the colony, and refused to support the use of force by either side to the dispute. We maintain a reduced staff at our Consulate General in Salisbury which continues to operate under exequaturs from the British Crown. With the Southern Rhodesian determination to declare itself a republic, increasingly negative reactions may be anticipated from African nations to our continuing presence in Salisbury. The Consulate General provides citizenship and welfare services to approximately 1,100 American residents, three-fourths of whom are missionary families.

Portuguese Territories

Our approach to Angola and Mozambique is influenced by countervailing factors. On the one hand Portugal is a NATO ally to which we currently supply about one million dollars in military assistance and whose islands, the Azores, we find important for use as a naval and air base. On the other hand we sympathize with the aspirations of the Angolans and Mozambicans for self-determination.

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In implementation of these policies we maintain a unilateral embargo on military equipment of U.S. origin for use in the Portuguese Territories either directly from the U.S. or indirectly from our NATO supplies to Portugal. U.S. export controls restrain possible sales of dual-purpose items, such as jet transports and communications equipment to the government of Portugal for uses in Africa.

We cooperate with Portugal on NATO matters and continue to use the Azores facilities. U.S. naval vessels and aircraft also use facilities in the Portuguese African territories for refueling and space support missions. Trade relations with the territories are normal and there are no USG restraints on American investment there apart from the Foreign Direct Investment Program. EXIM Bank facilities are available, subject to review for political implications.

Black African States of Southern Africa

The U.S. maintains cordial relations with the five black-ruled states of the area, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. We have Ambassadors in Malawi and Zambia. Since their independence we have maintained Chargés in Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland and these countries are pressing us for the assignment of resident Ambassadors. These countries consider the level of our diplomatic representatives to be an important manifestation of U.S. sympathy and support.

As with all developing countries, an important factor in our relations is the level and kind of aid we can provide. Under current policies AID provides funds for regional and multi-donor projects and for the small Special Self-Help and Development Program. Investment guarantees are available, and the U.S. extends additional help through PL 480 food donations, and Peace Corps programs in four of the five black countries. However, there is a body of opinion which considers that programs of bilateral technical assistance are necessary in these states because of their generally isolated and enclave location. Bilateral assistance has been limited as a matter of policy to 10 concentration countries in Africa, none of which are in the southern region. World-wide AID policy is currently under review. (See Annex 7 for a discussion of considerations involved in bilateral aid to the black states of the region).

A further problem with these countries is the Conte amendment to foreign assistance legislation.5 Zambia, fearful of attacks by the white regimes in retaliation for passage of liberation groups through her territory, [Page 39] is purchasing air defense missiles and possibly jet aircraft from the U.K. and Italy. The Conte amendment requires the cancellation of U.S. aid of bilateral and some regional types in the amount of weapons expenditures. We have introduced legislation to change the amendment to provide greater flexibility. Despite our explanations of the intent of Congress, application of the Conte amendment may be seen by the black states as evidence that the U.S. is more sympathetic to the status quo of the white regimes than the aspirations of the blacks.

Liberation Groups

The U.S. maintains contact with exile nationalist movements from the white-controlled states. We also assist refugee students from these states through the Southern African Student Program and two secondary schools which are operated for refugee students. The U.S. takes the position that force is not an appropriate means to bring about constructive change in southern Africa.

United Nations

On southern African issues in the UN the relationship between the U.S. position and that of Afro-Asian UN members has altered considerably over the last five years. We played a leading role in the arms embargo against South Africa, the determination that South Africa’s mandate over South West Africa had terminated, and on mandatory economic sanctions against Southern Rhodesia. However, these actions largely exhausted the store of measures we were prepared to take on these issues.

The Afro-Asians have steadily increased pressures to exclude South Africa from the UN, for sanctions against South Africa and Portugal, and for use of force to give effect to UN actions. These demands have moved these states far out in front of the U.S. and some other Free World countries. We have consistently resisted efforts to exclude South Africa from international bodies and to extend mandatory sanctions or use force on southern African issues. Thus the U.S. has made it clear that we have gone as far as we can in the direction of greater UN pressures on the white regimes. (The U.K. and France have adopted an even more restrained position on southern African issues, in their abstentions on the UN General Assembly resolution determining that South Africa’s mandate over South West Africa had terminated on which we voted in favor, and the U.K.’s somewhat more permissive policy on the arms embargo against South Africa, which is virtually a dead letter in the case of France.)

III. The Range of Policy Options

U.S. Objectives

There are several broad objectives of U.S. policy toward southern Africa. Arranged without intent to imply priority, they are: [Page 40]

  • —To improve the U.S. standing in black Africa and internationally on the racial issue.
  • —To protect economic, scientific and strategic interests and opportunities in the region.
  • —To minimize the likelihood of escalation of violence in the area and the risk of U.S. involvement.
  • —To minimize the opportunities for the USSR and Communist China to exploit the racial issue in the region for propaganda advantage and to gain political influence with black governments and liberation movements.
  • —To encourage moderation of the current rigid racial and colonial policies of the white regimes.

These objectives are to a degree contradictory—pursuit of one may make difficult the successful pursuit of one or more of the others. Moreover, views as to the relative priority among these objectives vary widely, depending primarily upon the perception of the nature of the problems in the area and U.S. interests there (see I.B).

Range of Choice

The general policy question centers on U.S. posture toward the white regimes—a key element in our relations with the black states in the area and a factor of varying degrees of importance throughout the continent.

But the range of feasible policy options is limited. On one extreme our interests do not justify consideration of U.S. military intervention in the area. On the other extreme we cannot accept or endorse either the racial or colonial policies of the white regimes. Nor can we identify ourselves with violent or repressive solutions to the area’s problems on either side of the confrontation. The essential choice is among:

Movement towards normal relations with the white regimes to protect and enhance our economic, strategic and scientific interests (Option 1).
Broader association with both black and white states in an effort to encourage moderation in the white states, to enlist cooperation of the black states in reducing tensions and the likelihood of increasing cross-border violence, and to encourage improved relations among states in area (Option 2).
Increased identification with and support for the black states of the region, as a pre-condition to pursuit of our minimum necessary economic, strategic and scientific interests in the white states (Option 3).
Limited association with the white states and closer association with the blacks in an effort to retain some economic, scientific and strategic interests in the white states while maintaining a posture on the racial issue which the blacks will accept, though opposing violent solutions to the problems of the region (Option 4).
Dissociation from the white regimes with closer relations with the black states in an effort to enhance our standing on the racial issue in Africa and internationally (Option 5).
Increased U.S. measures of coercion, short of armed force, bilaterally and on an international basis, to induce constructive change in white-regime race policies (Option 6).

Each option represents a range of actions, with some flexibility of choice among specific means without altering the premise or general strategy of the option. The purpose of this paper is to afford the NSC a choice on basic posture toward southern Africa. It is not intended to be a specific scenario for operational action, and the examples in each option are the types of action which would be consistent with the option’s thrust but are neither comprehensive nor necessarily in each case the specific action which would be selected.

A satisfactory arrangement regarding South Africa’s handling of gold can continue to be sought under any of the options, but it would probably be more difficult to achieve under Option 5, and particularly under Option 6.

Option 1


Our disagreements with the internal policies of governments in power in the region should not govern our relations with either the black or white states. We should follow a policy of pursuing our tangible interests throughout the region. In seeking to induce change, we have erroneously supported UN actions on Rhodesia and South West Africa based on questionable premises. While we cannot reverse our participation in these actions overnight, we can begin to withdraw from implementation of them. The political costs of closer relations with the white states will not be excessive.

General Posture

We would move to normalize our relations with all governments of the area, recognizing that reversal of our support for international actions already taken on Rhodesia and South West Africa will require some time. While we would make limited declarations of moral disapproval of the racial and colonial policies of the white governments, we would take no concrete measures to induce change and place no restrictions on the pursuit of our tangible interests. We would assume the risks of reaction against us in the black areas of the region and the rest of Africa.

Operational Examples

  • —Gradually terminate arms embargo against South Africa, beginning with liberal treatment of equipment which could serve either mili[Page 42]tary or civilian purposes or the common defense, e.g., anti-submarine warfare equipment.
  • —Authorize routine U.S. naval visits and use of airfields.
  • —Retain tracking station in South Africa as long as needed.
  • —Promote U.S. exports and facilitate investment (within the framework of U.S. Foreign Direct Investment Program) in South Africa, South West Africa, the Portuguese Territories and eventually Rhodesia; afford unrestricted EXIM Bank facilities.
  • —Continue sugar quota for South Africa.
  • —Recognize South African authorities in South West Africa and place no limitations on dealing with them.
  • —Cease enforcement of sanctions against Rhodesia; retain Consulate; if Republic is declared consider recognition.
  • —Quietly terminate unilateral U.S. arms embargo on Portuguese Territories, beginning with authorization of export of dual-purpose equipment.
  • —Economic assistance to the black states on the same basis as elsewhere in Africa; no special assistance and no arms supply; possible minority participation in development consortium with South Africa and Rhodesia.
  • —Public discouragement of insurgent movements and no assistance to political refugees.
  • —Limited information and exchange programs in both black and white areas.


Would reduce danger that U.S. international commitments on problems of the region may involve us in possible future conflict.
Would preserve and expand U.S. scientific, strategic and economic interests in white-controlled areas.
Would remove irritant in U.S. relations with Portugal.


Would require repudiation of previous U.S. actions in UN and, in the case of Rhodesia, violation of mandatory provisions of the UN Charter.
Would tend to encourage the white regimes in their intransigence.
Would provoke strong black African reaction with possible adverse effects on U.S. interests in those countries.
Would risk forfeiting to communist powers primary influence with black states of region, the insurgent movements and to degree elsewhere in Africa.
Unrestricted pursuit of tangible interests would result in greater restrictions on future actions.
Does nothing to deal with problems of potential violence in region.

Option 2


The whites are here to stay and the only way that constructive change can come about is through them. There is no hope for the blacks to gain the political rights they seek through violence, which will only lead to chaos and increased opportunities for the communists. We can, by selective relaxation of our stance toward the white regimes, encourage some modification of their current racial and colonial policies and through more substantial economic assistance to the black states (a total of about $5 million annually in technical assistance to the black states) help to draw the two groups together and exert some influence on both for peaceful change. Our tangible interests form a basis for our contacts in the region, and these can be maintained at an acceptable political cost.

General Posture

We would maintain public opposition to racial repression but relax political isolation and economic restrictions on the white states. We would begin by modest indications of this relaxation, broadening the scope of our relations and contacts gradually and to some degree in response to tangible—albeit small and gradual—moderation of white policies. Without openly taking a position undermining the U.K. and the UN on Rhodesia, we would be more flexible in our attitude toward the Smith regime. We would take present Portuguese policies as suggesting further changes in the Portuguese Territories. At the same time we would take diplomatic steps to convince the black states of the area that their current liberation and majority rule aspirations in the south are not attainable by violence and that their only hope for a peaceful and prosperous future lies in closer relations with white-dominated states. We would emphasize our belief that closer relations will help to bring change in the white states. We would give increased and more flexible economic aid to black states of the area to focus their attention on their internal development and to give them a motive to cooperate in reducing tensions. We would encourage economic assistance from South Africa to the developing black nations.

This option accepts, at least over a 3 to 5 year period, the prospect of unrequited U.S. initiatives toward the whites and some opposition from the blacks in order to develop an atmosphere conducive to change in white attitudes through persuasion and erosion. To encourage this [Page 44] change in white attitudes, we would indicate our willingness to accept political arrangements short of guaranteed progress toward majority rule, provided that they assure broadened political participation in some form by the whole population.

The various elements of the option would stand as a whole and approval of the option would not constitute approval of individual elements out of this context.

Operational Examples

  • —Maintain public stance against apartheid but relax political isolation and economic restrictions against the white states.
  • —Enforce arms embargo against South Africa but with liberal treatment of equipment which could serve either military or civilian purposes.
  • —Fuel stops only, or naval visits in South Africa with arrangements for non-discrimination toward U.S. personnel in organized activity ashore;6 authorize routine use of airfields.
  • —Retain tracking stations in South Africa as long as required.
  • —Remove constraints on EXIM Bank facilities for South Africa; actively encourage U.S. exports and facilitate U.S. investment consistent with the Foreign Direct Investment Program.
  • —Continue sugar quota in South Africa.
  • —Conduct selected exchange programs with South Africa in all categories, including military.
  • —Without changing the U.S. legal position that South African occupancy of South West Africa is illegal, we would play down the issue and encourage accommodation between South Africa and the UN.
  • —On Rhodesia, retain Consulate; gradually relax sanctions (e.g., hardship exceptions for chrome) and consider eventual recognition.
  • —Continue arms embargo on Portuguese Territories, but give more liberal treatment to exports of dual purpose equipment.
  • —Continue discussions with Portuguese on African policy. Be prepared to offer discreet good offices in restoring and improving Portuguese relations with Zambia and the Congo.
  • —Encourage trade and investment in Portuguese Territories; full EXIM Bank facilities.
  • —Establish Southern African Development Fund for aid projects in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland with U.S. Ambassador accredited to three states to be U.S. representative to Fund Council. Consider possibility [Page 45] of Malawi participation in Fund at later stage, if this appears politically advisable.
  • —Provide bilateral technical assistance to Tanzania and Zambia; continue at least one major regional development project involving them.
  • —Respond to reasonable requests for purchase of nonsophisticated arms but seek no change in Conte amendment.
  • —Official visits for Tanzanian and Zambian heads of state.
  • —By diplomatic means seek to persuade black states (importantly Zambia and Tanzania) to adopt policy of peaceful coexistence with white regimes.
  • —Towards African insurgent movements take public position that U.S. opposes use of force in racial confrontation. Continue humanitarian assistance to refugees.
  • —Increase information and exchange activities in both white and black states.


Would encourage existing tendencies to broaden relations between black states and white and thus reduce tensions—South Africa’s new outward policy, Zambia’s trade and sub-rosa political contacts with South Africa and Portugal.
Would preserve U.S. economic, scientific and strategic interests in the white states and would expand opportunities for profitable trade and investment.
Relaxation of the U.S. attitude toward the whites could help lift their present siege mentality; and it would encourage elements among the whites seeking to extend South African relationships with black Africa.
U.S. diplomatic support and economic aid offer the black states an alternative to the recognized risks of mounting communist influence.
Increased aid would also give us greater influence to caution the black states against violent confrontation and give them a tangible stake in accepting the prospects of gradual change.
Would reduce a major irritant in our relations with Portugal, and afford the Caetano government opportunity for liberalization.


Relaxation of the U.S. stance towards white states could be taken by the whites as a vindication of their policies. Many black states, led by Zambia and Tanzania, probably would charge us with subordinating our professed ideals to material interests and tolerating [Page 46] white-regime policies. This reaction could adversely affect, in varying degrees, our political, economic and strategic interests in the black states.
There is a serious question whether pro-Western leaders of the black states could continue to justify their stance to their populations if the U.S. officially declared its opposition to current liberation efforts. Radical and communist states would be the beneficiaries.
Unilateral U.S. relaxation of sanctions against Rhodesia would be a highly visible violation of our international obligations and would be damaging both to the U.S. and to the UN.
The current thrust of South African domestic policy does not involve any basic change in the racial segregation system, which is anathema to the black states. There is virtually no evidence that change might be forthcoming in these South African policies as a result of any approach on our part.
Requires extensive diplomatic and economic involvement in a situation in which the solution is extremely long-range and the outcome doubtful at best.
It is doubtful that the additional aid contemplated would be sufficiently great to influence the black states in the direction indicated.

Option 3


An effective U.S. role in the region and in Africa requires credibility with the black states. A more active demonstration of interest in the black states of the region is necessary to meet this need and to provide a basis for carrying out with minimum political risk, essential official policies in the white states. We can by so doing meet our minimal requirements in the area and exert a greater influence on the course of events in the black states.

General Posture

We would begin as soon as possible to improve our position in the black states, including a high-level public statement stressing our commitment to the peaceful advancement of human freedoms and dignity in southern Africa. If progress achieved in the first six months should warrant it, we could consider possibility for steps in pursuit of our minimum necessary economic, strategic and scientific interests in the white states.

Operational Examples

  • —Maintain active stance, publicly, officially and in UN against apartheid.
  • —Continue arms embargo against South Africa.
  • —Retain NASA tracking station but with alternative facilities elsewhere.
  • —Neither encourage nor discourage investment; low-key commercial services.
  • —No EXIM loans; insurance and credit guarantees subject to political review.
  • —Encourage Congressional revocation of South African sugar quota and reallocation to less developed African producers.
  • —Encourage U.S. companies to apply liberal employee policies.
  • —Maintain persistent opposition and non-recognition of South African rule in South West Africa.
  • —Discourage U.S. investments in South West Africa; no EXIM Bank facilities.
  • —Take initiatives in UN on behalf of alternatives to Chapter VII sanctions on South West Africa—such as reference to ICJ. Avoid veto if possible.
  • —Support through exchanges and contacts groups in South Africa and South West Africa seeking wiser racial policies and the rule of law; encourage U.S. private organizations supportive of these groups.
  • —Terminate U.S. involvement in Rhodesia by closing Consulate and permitting release of chrome stocks if they would clearly fall under Treasury hardship rule (even though this would violate our UN obligations). Make clear no further transactions with current regime will be permitted. Continue sanctions enforcement.
  • —Continue discussions with Portuguese on African policy. Be prepared to offer discreet good offices in restoring and improving Portuguese relations with Zambia and the Congo.
  • —Maintain embargo on the supply of arms to either side in the conflict in Portuguese Africa. Continue operational naval visits.
  • —Normal trade and neutral policy on investment in Portuguese Territories; continue routine EXIM financing and be prepared to grant major EXIM loans when economic and political circumstances warrant.
  • —Maintain discreet contact with, but give no new assistance (other than educational and humanitarian) to political refugees from Portuguese Africa.
  • —Establish Southern African Development Fund for aid projects in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland with U.S. Ambassador accredited to three states to be U.S. representative to Fund Council. Consider possibility of Malawi participation in Fund at later stage, if this appears politically advisable.
  • —Provide bilateral technical assistance to Tanzania and Zambia; continue at least one major regional development project involving them.
  • —Official visits for Tanzanian and Zambian heads of states.
  • —Maintain discreet contact and selective non-military support to liberation groups (other than those from Portuguese Africa). Extend educational and humanitarian assistance to individual political refugees.
  • —Maintain present information and exchange programs in white areas and expand programs in black states.
  • —After a period of six months from the inception of the program to strengthen relations and understanding with the black states, consider the following actions in pursuit of limited U.S. economic and strategic interests in South Africa:
  • —Reconsider EXIM policy.
  • —Flexibility in arms embargo on sale of dual purpose items.
  • —Unclassified military correspondence courses where there is clearly direct benefit to U.S. in resulting contact.
  • —Operational naval visits on the basis of fuel stops only or with shore leave restricted to racially integrated activities.


Would preserve most of our minimum necessary economic, strategic and scientific interests in the white states.
Would afford access to black states of region and improve our standing elsewhere in Africa and with Afro-Asian states at UN.
Expanded aid to the black states would enable us to offset criticisms of our necessary activities in white states.
Would retain flexibility for future movements towards either white or black states.


Preparatory moves in black states might not give clear enough results nor be sufficient to offset African criticism for possible later activities in white states.
Association with the white regimes at any time is vulnerable to exploitation by the communists and African extremists.
Substantial EXIM loan in Portuguese Territories could cause adverse repercussions in Zambia and Tanzania.
Chrome “exception” by U.S. would be in violation of a mandatory provision of the UN Charter and might tend toward further weakening of sanctions against Southern Rhodesia.

Option 4


The situation in the region is not likely to change appreciably in the foreseeable future, and in any event we cannot influence it. Conse[Page 49]quently we can retain some economic, scientific and strategic interests in the white states at the same time as we protect our world-wide standing on the racial issue by limiting the nature and scope of our associations with these states and by maintaining present levels and types of aid to the black states of the region. To do so provides us with a posture of flexibility to enable us best to adapt our policy to future trends.

General Posture

This is a codification and extension of present policy.

In the UN and bilaterally we would continue basic opposition to the racial and colonial policies of the white states but seek to maintain correct relations with them. We would retain some military access, scientific installations etc., under conditions which do not imply our condoning of racial repression. In concert with the British, we would stand firmly against the Smith regime, closing our Consulate and continuing sanctions. We would lower the level of public criticism of Portuguese policy in Africa to encourage liberalizing tendencies of the Caetano government. We would give economic aid to black states of the region. We would continue to oppose violent solutions to the problems of the region, and to oppose the outward thrust of South African influence where this strengthens South African domination of neighboring states.

Operational Examples

  • —Strict application of arms embargo against South Africa.
  • —Permit U.S. naval calls in South Africa with arrangements for non-discrimination toward U.S. personnel ashore.
  • —Retain NASA station in South Africa but with alternative facilities elsewhere.
  • —Neither encourage nor discourage investment in South Africa, give low-key commercial services, no direct EXIM Bank loans but permit insurance and guarantees of commercial credits.
  • —Support Congressional revocation of sugar quota for South Africa and its reallocation to less developed African producers.
  • —Continue to view South African administration of South West Africa as illegal; urge South Africa to accept UN supervisory authority; discourage U.S. investments, no EXIM facilities.
  • —Support through exchanges and contacts groups in South Africa and South West Africa seeking wiser racial policies and rule of law; encourage U.S. private organizations supportive of such groups.
  • —Follow British lead on representation and recognition of Southern Rhodesia and on UN sanctions program; withdraw consulate.
  • —Maintain embargo on supply of arms to either side in the conflict involving the Portuguese Territories, take neutral attitude on investment and permit EXIM facilities for U.S. exports short of major infrastructural projects. Soften criticisms of Portuguese African policy in UN and bilaterally.
  • —Establish flexible economic assistance programs in the black states of the region permitting the retention of present aid levels.
  • —Maintain discreet contact with African insurgent movements and extend educational and humanitarian assistance to individuals.
  • —Maintain modest information and exchange programs in white-ruled areas (except Rhodesia); expand activities in the black states.


Preserves most of our major economic, scientific and strategic interests in the region at least in the short run.
Affords access to black states in the region and preserves some standing elsewhere in Africa and with Afro-Asian states at the UN.
Retains some flexibility for movement closer to either white or black states, depending upon future developments.


Position would be seen as expedient and hypocritical by both sides. Our condemnation of whites hurts us with them, yet fails to satisfy the blacks, exposing us to pressures for more decisive measures.
Policy does nothing to deal actively with problem of violence in the area or increasing communist influence.
Restrictions on association with white regimes involve some loss of potential U.S. economic and defense assets.

Option 5


We cannot influence the white states for constructive change, and therefore increasing violence is likely.

Only by cutting our ties with the white regimes can we protect our standing on the race issue in black Africa and internationally. Since our tangible interests are not vital, this is a reasonable price to pay.

General Posture

We would maintain only minimal relations with the white regimes, emphasizing that improved relations are impossible until they moderate present policies and avoiding actions vis-à-vis these states likely to provoke an adverse reaction in the black African states. This disassociation would be at the official level only: private trade, travel, [Page 51] and other forms of communication would continue, but without USG assistance or encouragement. We would at the same time stress to the black African states the extent to which we were sacrificing certain of our material interests and would make it clear that (1) we had gone as far as we were prepared to go in this direction, and (2) we would not support any violent solution to their problems nor sanctions against the white states (except Rhodesia). We would take positive official stands against racial and colonial oppression. We would afford economic aid to the black states and sell them reasonable quantities of non-sophisticated military equipment.

Operational Examples

  • —Strictest application of arms embargo against South Africa.
  • —Remove NASA tracking station.
  • —Prohibit official use of South African ports and airfields except in emergency.
  • —Neither encourage nor discourage trade or investment but provide no commercial services or EXIM facilities in South Africa.
  • —Encourage Congressional revocation of the sugar quota for South Africa, and its reallocation to less developed African producers.
  • —Match diplomatic mission and consulates in South Africa to reduced official relationships.
  • —Make clear that we regard South Africa’s continued occupation of South West Africa as illegal. Discourage U.S. investment; deny commercial services and EXIM facilities; hold to minimum U.S. contacts with South African authorities in South West Africa.
  • —Support through exchanges and contacts groups in South Africa and South West Africa seeking wiser racial policies and rule of law; encourage U.S. private organizations supportive of such groups.
  • —Support strict international enforcement of sanctions and maintain non-recognition of Southern Rhodesia; withdraw Consulate.
  • —Limit EXIM Bank activities and official trade promotion in Portuguese Territories. Maintain arms embargo and continue to support self-determination for the Portuguese Territories.
  • —Establish Southern African Development Fund for aid projects in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland with U.S. Ambassador accredited to three states to be U.S. representative to Fund Council. Consider possibility of Malawi participation in Fund at later stage, if this appears politically advisable.
  • —Provide bilateral technical assistance to Tanzania and Zambia; continue at least one major regional development project involving them.
  • —Official visits for Tanzanian and Zambian heads of states.
  • —Open contact and sympathy for aspirations of African insurgent groups short of material support.
  • —Reduce information and exchange programs in white areas to a minimum; expand programs in the black states.


Would significantly increase our credibility in black Africa and the UN by demonstrating U.S. is prepared to back its pronouncements on the race issue at some material sacrifices.
Would provide maximum leverage to limit Soviet and Chinese influence among liberation groups and in their host countries.
Would put white regimes on notice that U.S. is not prepared to bail them out for material or strategic reasons.
Would provide a more defensible basis to counter Afro-Asian demands for more far-reaching proposals.


It would tend to identify us with the cause of the insurgent movements and would stimulate demands for more far-reaching action.
Would sacrifice economic, strategic and scientific interests.
We would forfeit economic opportunities to France, the U.K. and other major trading nations who would be unlikely to take similar steps.
Might reinforce the siege mentality of the white regimes and their resistance to constructive change.
Would make our relations with the Portuguese more difficult.

Option 6


The repressive policies of the white regimes are leading to eventual conflict in the region, which in the long run cannot end other than in victory for the African majority. Such conflict would be a tragedy, but for the U.S. to permit communist monopoly of the insurgent struggle would be worse for our long-range interests. Both to obviate a major armed conflict if possible, and to identify with the eventual winners if it is inevitable, the U.S. should now move to active measures to force change in white-regime race policies.

General Posture

After appropriate diplomatic warnings of our impending action, the U.S. would move to active measures of coercion, short of armed force, against the white regimes. We would try to get maximum UN support for these measures. Our actions would include efforts to ex[Page 53]tend UN mandatory economic sanctions to include South Africa and Portugal, but would be carried out unilaterally if necessary. We would sharply increase assistance to the black states, and give non-military aid to the liberation movements.

Operational Examples

  • —Advocate in UN the extension of mandatory economic sanctions to Portuguese Territories and South Africa because of their evasion of sanctions against Rhodesia.
  • —Toughen present sanctions against Rhodesia to include bans on tourism, postal facilities, telecommunications, and transportation, and include such provisions in eventual sanctions against Portuguese Territories and South Africa.
  • —Reduce representation in South Africa to chargé and small staff, close consulates in white regime countries.
  • —Withdraw NASA tracking station from South Africa.
  • —Afford substantial economic assistance to black states of the region, particularly Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
  • —Furnish non-sophisticated defense matériel and training in the United States for selected military personnel from Zambia and Tanzania.
  • —Declare public support for the objectives of the liberation organizations and furnish them non-military assistance.
  • —Withdraw USIS and terminate U.S. exchange programs in white-regime areas; expand these programs in the black states.


Clear U.S. position on side of majority rule brings our actions into alignment with our declared political position and therefore would increase our influence throughout black Africa.
Decisive action by U.S. might induce white regimes to make needed reforms before violence erupts.
Policy puts U.S. on eventual winning side, thus undercutting communist influence on liberation effort and insuring long-term dominant U.S. influence in most developed part of Africa.


U.S. initiative in UN would be unlikely to gain support of U.K., France and perhaps others, leaving us to go it alone.
Experience with Rhodesia suggests that even stringent sanctions tend to increase siege mentality and unify white minorities.
Heavy repercussions from sanctions would fall on new, economically weak African states, particularly Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. These would have to be given economic compensation.
The U.S. would have sacrificed a range of valuable material interests in the southern region without reasonable assurances that disruptive conflict would be thereby averted.

[Omitted here is Section IV.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, National Security Study Memoranda (NSSMs) and related papers, 1969–1976, Lot 80D212, NSSM 39. Secret. This paper is a revised version of an August 15 study. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–026, National Security Council Meetings, NSC Meeting 12/17/69 Southern Africa (NSSM 39)) The revisions were requested at an October 16 Review Group meeting. (Minutes of a Review Group meeting; ibid., Box H–040, Senior Review Group Meetings, Review Group Meeting—Southern Africa 10/16/69) The annexes are not printed.
  2. Document 6.
  3. Resolution 232, adopted December 16, 1966 (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1966, pp. 116–117); Resolution 253, adopted May 29, 1968 (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1968, pp. 152–154).
  4. Executive Order 11322, signed January 5, 1967, and Executive Order 11419, signed July 29, 1968.
  5. The Conte–Long amendment to the Foreign Assistance and Related Appropriations Act of 1968 directed the President to withhold economic assistance from underdeveloped countries (with some exceptions) in an amount equivalent to the amount spent for the purchase of sophisticated weapons systems.
  6. This would not necessarily preclude individual shore leave. [Footnote is in the original.]